The Diane Sawyer Interview with George W. Bush

For your reading pleasure, the full transcript of ABC’s interview with President Unelectable:

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Good evening. And welcome to this “Primetime” special event, an interview with President George W. Bush. When we first scheduled this interview, it was going to be a look back at the year. But as you now know, it landed in some of the biggest headlines of his presidency. And tonight, we’ll hear him say it straight-out, he wants the death penalty for Saddam Hussein. The interview took place in the Cabinet Room here in the White House, just several hours ago. About 40 minutes to cover everything from the election to his family to gay marriage to the war. Including that moment three days ago, when they dragged his oldest enemy out of the dirt hole.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Mr. President, December 13th, was it the best day your presidency?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: No, no. The best day of my presidency was when I was sworn in as President and -because it gave me a chance to assume this high office and implement a strategy that would make the world more peaceful and more free and a country more compassionate. That’s so far been the best day of my presidency. This has been a presidency with a lot of dramatic moments, however. And, of course, the 13th of December was a very dramatic moment. September the 11th, 2001, was a dramatic moment. It’s been a presidency that has been an active presidency for the sake of peace and freedom. And, therefore, there’s been, there are a lot of interesting stories to talk about.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) You have said, “wanted, dead or alive.” Were you sorry it was alive?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I’m glad that chapter in Iraqi history’s over with.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) One way or the other?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah, absolutely. And, because, see, there were some people who were told that Saddam is coming back and, therefore, shouldn’t risk anything for peace and freedom. And now they know he’s not coming back. And I look forward to the trial. We had an interesting discussion yesterday, which I’ll be glad to share with you my sentiments, if you’d care to hear them, about how I think he ought to be tried by the Iraqis.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) And if he does not get the death penalty, will you be disappointed?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I’m … let’s just see what penalty he gets. But I, I think he ought to receive the ultimate penalty and … for what he’s done to his people. I mean, he is a torturer, a murderer. They had rape rooms. This is a, this is a disgusting tyrant who deserves justice, the ultimate justice. But that will be decided, not by the President of the United States, but by the citizens of Iraq in one form or another.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) But you also said, “in a way that will stand international scrutiny.”

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah, that’s right. And what I meant by that is, you know, you don’t want a kangaroo court. I don’t know if you saw the instant outburst when Bremer got up and said, “we got him.”

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: And some journalists, I believe they were journalists, started screaming, “death to Saddam.” There needs to be a process that people, that is transparent and open and people are able to see exactly what’s, what’s going on.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Does that mean you want an American role in it to ensure some international vantage point?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, there is an American role in it already, because the, until we transfer sovereignty. And it would be during this process that we’ll be working with the Iraqis to develop a system that, that people will say, it’s open and it’s fair.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) But in terms of an American presence in the trial itself?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I don’t think so. I think the Iraqis are plenty capable of conducting the trial itself.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Would you like to see him?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: No. I don’t care to see him.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Never?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I have no … I’ve seen him. I’ve seen enough of him. I saw him getting de-loused and after having been pulled out a rat hole.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) His daughter has said that those photos were disrespectful and humiliating to him. And that he also seemed sedated, by the way.


DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Was he sedated? And was it designed to humiliate him?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: No, I don’t … first of all, I don’t know if he was sedated or not. I mean, that’s a question you need to ask the folks in the field. Secondly, it was designed to reflect the truth and to show, and to show the world that this barbaric person was found in a hole, hiding, cowering, that … it’s also interesting that he’s going to receive the justice that he never gave others. And it’s, it’s a dramatic moment. And I can understand a daughter being concerned about her dad. I mean, there’s, you know, presumably somewhere in this hard, barbaric heart, there was some love for his child. And, but he showed no love for the Iraqi people, particularly those that dared express an opinion other than his.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) One of the members of one of the Congressional intelligence committees said this morning that it would be perfectly all right on Saddam Hussein to use some of the measures, not torture, but sleep deprivation, cold, some of the things that can be induced to make him uncomfortable. Do you endorse this?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I have no idea what, how they’re going to interrogate. I do know that this country doesn’t torture.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) And it’s all right if they use the other means?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I have no idea what they’re going to do. But we do not torture.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) We read that he has already said, no weapons of mass destruction.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah. You’ve read that for many, many years.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) But that he is talking. Has he said anything that is new?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I wouldn’t trust a word he said. He -he’s deceived and lied to the world in the past. He’s not going to change his stripes. And I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t hold much account to the word of Saddam Hussein.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Do you think he was directing the raids on Iraq, now that you’ve seen him, now that you see where he was hiding?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I don’t think we know enough yet. And what we do know is that he’s a dangerous man who gassed his own people, who murdered people, who invaded Kuwait, and, and that the world is safer without him. And the Iraqi people can now close that chapter, that ugly, brutal chapter of their history, and show the world they can govern themselves.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Many people have said, “Saddam Hussein. All right, what about Osama Bin Laden?”

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, he’s -he’s -we’re on his trail, too. He’s …

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Close?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I don’t know. It’s, it’s … you know, had you and I had conducted this interview the day before we captured Saddam, you’d have said, “are we close to Saddam?” And I would have said, “you know, I really don’t know.” And I knew that we have a strategy to find him, but I didn’t know how close we were. And I don’t think you know how close you are on finding somebody like this until you actually find them. I mean, look, this is a person who hid in a hole and in a country the size of California. And Bin Laden’s on the run. I mean, he’s -all I can say, he’s certainly not leading any parades these days. And, you know, he’s probably in a hole somewhere hiding from justice. We’ll get him.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Dead or alive?


DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Since the President declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq on May 1st, more than 2,000 American men and women have been killed or injured in action. That’s an average of nine a day. And the President’s critics have said that the war President has been insufficient in informing the families of those still there when they’ll come home.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Does the capture of Saddam Hussein mean that the troops will come home?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: No, no. The troops will come home when we’ve completed the mission and, which is a free and secure Iraq. And the capture of Saddam Hussein is a great tribute to the bravery of our troops. And it’s a great tribute to the capacity for us to gather intelligence, actionable intelligence, and be able to respond to it very quickly.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) I’m thinking that most mornings, I assume in that office right through that door.


DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) You get the reports on deaths and casualties.


DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) As Americans do when they wake up every morning.


DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) When you hear, on an average, nine every day, what do you say to yourself in that office?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I, first of all, you know, I’ve seen the grief of the moms and dads and husbands and wives and children firsthand. I’ve had, one of my duties is to, is to, you know, console as best as I can, and weep or hug or whatever’s necessary to do my part to try to help. And, but I say, thank God our country has got people willing to sacrifice on behalf of peace and freedom. I have had to make some very difficult decisions about sending brave, young Americans into harm’s way. And in so doing, they lost their life. And I’ve asked for God’s blessings on -on the people that love them.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Is there ever a point at which you would say, “this is too many, this is too high a price to be paying”?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: My job is to do everything I can to protect America and Americans. We are at war. And the war on terror is, is the challenge of the 21st century. And we must win the war. And there are different fronts on the war on terror. And I will continue to do what I think is necessary to win that war. I, and the key for me is to remind the loved ones that their troops are getting what is necessary to achieve the objective, that this government’s supporting them. And that we honor their memories, and we will not stop short of the objective until we have achieved the objective. The way to dishonor a memory of a fallen soldier is to quit too early, is to not to see that America is a more secure country and the world is a more peaceful place.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) I guess for the family, how, maybe the question they would ask is, “how much do you suffer with each death?”

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I, I, I’m … I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose a son or a daughter or a husband, and, or a wife, for that matter. And I, it pains me.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Will we have fewer troops in Iraq this time next year?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: That depends on the commanders on the ground. And it’s very important for you to understand how I think the Commander in Chief ought to run a war and a reconstruction effort. My job is to set the goal and to make sure our troops and planners have got the resources necessary to achieve the goal.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) We keep hearing that 40 percent of the casualties are among the Reserves and the National Guard. And their families have talked about the fact they’re in humvees with soft sides. Some of the families have actually sent flak jackets over saying, “can we give you any help?” Are we saying there is nothing more that can be done to protect them? That the casualties just have to be absorbed everyday?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: No, I don’t think people feel that way. That would be, if anybody … well, first of all, my, my job is to continue to ask those questions to our, to our military. What more can we do? Can we change flight patterns? Can we harden assets? Can we detect and defuse IEDs? The, these explosive devices, before they happen? And we’ve asked other countries for technology to help protect our troops. We’re doing everything we can to protect the troops. And it’s important for their loved ones to understand that.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Senator John McCain has said that at times, Commanders in Chief have to go to the military and overrule them. And more troops are needed right now.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, REPUBLICAN, ARIZONA: The dirty little secret is that we don’t have enough troops.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I asked John Abizaid, who is the general in charge of that theater, does he need more troops? He said we’ve got what we need. As a matter of fact, the strategy is to, is to have more troops, but they would be Iraqi troops, Iraqi police, Iraqi civil defense corps. And there’s about 160,000 trained Iraqis that are in charge their own security. The truth of the matter is, for Iraq to emerge as a free society, the Iraqi citizens must step up. And I think, I truly believe that the arrest of Saddam Hussein will encourage more Iraqis to step up, because the doubt as to whether or not he’ll return has now been removed.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Once again, through that door this morning, presumably, you received the threat matrix, which you get every morning.


DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Are more al-Qaeda in Iraq today than they were before the war? Are more al-Qaeda in the United States today than there we before the war?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Interesting question. It’s hard to quantify that. Ansar al-Islam, which is a al-Qaeda affiliate, I would call them al-Qaeda, was active in Iraq before the war, hence, -a terrorist tie with Iraq, and they are still active in Iraq. In terms of our own country, you know, we pay a price for being such a free country. People move, are able to move in and out. They’re able to burry into our society. We’re doing a better job of understanding who’s coming in and who’s leaving. But if there is a sleeper cell here, we’re doing everything we can to find them and disrupt them.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Secretary Rumsfeld, in his famous memo that was leaked, worried that more radicals are being produced in the schools, Islamic schools, than we’re capturing, than we can kill, capture or otherwise contain.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: No one said the war on terror is going to be short. I mean, this is going to be a long struggle. And the United States and our friends, including the French and the Germans, must continue to cooperate, which we are on a number of fronts, to defeat those who hate freedom and who spread a message of hate and intolerance.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Many people have expressed great interest in your faith and your religion and the role that it plays. Did you pray to God for the capture of Saddam Hussein?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: No. I prayed for God for wisdom and strength and guidance. It’s like saying, “do you pray for God that you get a vote?” No.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) One of the questions that I guess people have is, “does your confidence come from feeling that, that God is behind you?”

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: My confidence comes from a lot of sources. I do, I am sustained by the prayers of the people in this country. I guess an appropriate way to say this is, one of the beautiful things about America and Americans from all walks of life is that they’re willing to pray for the President and his family. And that’s powerful. It’s hard for me to describe to you what that means. It’s, let me just say this, it’s a leap of faith to understand. But I am a confident person, I am, because I believe in the values of America. I believe in what we stand for.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) And now, those controversial Administration statements leading America to war. Their own chief weapons inspector, David Kay, has not found weapons of mass destruction.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) 50 percent of the American people have said that they think the Administration exaggerated the evidence going into the war with Iraq, weapons of mass destruction, connection to terrorism. Are the American people wrong, misguided?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: No, the intelligence I operated on was good sound intelligence. The same intelligence that my predecessor operated on. The, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein was a threat. The, otherwise the United Nations wouldn’t have passed, you know, resolution after resolution after resolution demanding that he disarm. I first went to the United Nations, September the 12th, 2002, and said, “you’ve given this man resolution after resolution after resolution. He’s ignoring them. You step up and see that he honor those resolutions. Otherwise, you become a feckless, debating society.” And so, for the sake of peace and for the sake of freedom of the Iraqi people, for the sake of the security of the country, and for the sake of the credibility of -international institutions, a group of us moved. And the world is better for it.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) When you take a look back, Vice President Cheney said, “there is no doubt Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction.” Not programs, not intent. There is no doubt he has weapons of mass destruction. Secretary Powell said “100 to 500 tons of chemical weapons.” And now the inspectors say that there’s no evidence of these weapons existing right now. The yellow cake in Niger. George Tenet has said that shouldn’t have been in your speech. Secretary Powell talked about mobile labs. Again, the intelligence, the inspectors have said they can’t confirm this, they can’t corroborate. Nuclear, suggestions that he was on the way on an active nuclear program. David Kay, “we have not discovered significant evidence of … ”


DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Is it “yet”?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: But what David Kay did discover was they had a weapons program. And had that -that -let me finish for a second. Now it’s more extensive than, than missiles. Had that knowledge been examined by the United Nations or had David Kay’s report been placed in front of the United Nations, he, Saddam Hussein, would have been in material breach of 1441, which meant it was a causis belli. And, look, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein was a dangerous person. And there’s no doubt we had a body of evidence proving that. And there is no doubt that the President must act, after 9/11, to make America a more secure country.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Again, I’m just trying to ask, these are supporters, people who believed in the war who have asked the question.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, you can keep asking the question. And my answer’s gonna be the same. Saddam was a danger. And the world is better off because we got rid of him.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: So what’s the difference?

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Well …

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: The possibility that he could acquire weapons. If he were to acquire weapons, he would be the danger. That’s, that’s what I’m trying to explain to you. A gathering threat, after 9/11, is a threat that needed to be dealt with. And it was done after 12 long years of the world saying the man’s a danger. And so, we got rid of him. And there’s no doubt the world is a safer, freer place as a result of Saddam being gone.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) But, but, again, some, some of the critics have said this, combined with the failure to establish proof of elaborate terrorism contacts, has indicated that there’s just not precision, at best, and misleading, at worst.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah. Look, what, what we based our evidence on was a very sound national intelligence estimate.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Nothing should have been more precise?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I, I made my decision based upon enough intelligence to tell me that this country was threatened with Saddam Hussein in power.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) What would it take to convince you he didn’t have weapons of mass destruction?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Saddam Hussein was a threat. And the fact that he is gone means America is a safer country.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) And if he doesn’t have weapons of mass destruction?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Diane, you can keep asking the question. I’m telling you, I made the right decision for America. Because Saddam Hussein used weapons of mass destruction, invaded Kuwait. But the fact that he is not there is, means America’s a more secure country.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) I want to try politics.


DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) You have said that Vice President Cheney will be the Vice Presidential candidate.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: For a good reason. He’s a great Vice President.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: We’re not going to find weapons of mass destruction by chugging around. I started getting asked this question before they ever got to Baghdad.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Is it important to have continuity in the Secretary of Defense in the next term? Will you promise the American people?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I haven’t made any decisions on cabinet, except for the Vice President. I mean, everybody’s got to understand that, that their job is for four years. And I’ll make those decisions, if I’m fortunate enough to win.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Making assumptions? Are you beatable?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Everybody’s beatable in democracy. And that’s the great thing about a democracy. People get to make that decision. I know how I’m voting. I’m not sure who I’ll be voting against, because I don’t, they haven’t nominated a candidate yet. But I know who I’ll be voting for. And I just hope the people stay with us. And if they, if they do, I’d be honored to serve. If not, I’ll be heading back to Crawford, Texas.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) As we return, now, we’re joined by Mrs. Bush, to talk about how the family learned of the capture of Saddam Hussein. The President said he was at Camp David.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I was at what they call Aspen, which is the Presidential cabin, reading the book on Ben Franklin. And the phone, the man came in, the guy at the house came in and said, “there’s a secure phone call from Secretary Rumsfeld.” That doesn’t happen very often. And, my first anticipation was something bad has happened. And he got on the phone and said, “first reports aren’t always accurate, but John Abizaid thinks that we have captured Saddam Hussein.”

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) At that moment, what happened inside you?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: At that moment, a cautionary note came, because I had been disappointed before. My instincts were to say, “that is good news, but let’s make sure it’s true.” Because I know how hard they had been working to accomplish this mission. It was the next morning when Miss Rice called, that would be Condi Rice, at 5:15 in the morning, saying, “it has been confirmed out of Baghdad that we have captured Saddam Hussein,” that I began to have a sense of joy for the Iraqi people. And a sense of accomplishment for our troops. You know, my dad called me during this series of phone calls I was making to our allies and friends, and he said, “congratulations, son.” I said, “dad, this is a joyous moment for the Iraqi people.”

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) But did you have a moment, just father-to-son, after 12 years, in which Saddam Hussein had called you the son of the viper?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Right. No, not really. I was busy, believe this or not. Look, I had phone calls stacked up, and I wanted, I didn’t want to keep other foreign leaders waiting. It was, it was a touching moment, because dad, I could sense this great sense of pride in his voice. And, but it was very important for him to realize that the moment is, it’s an important moment. But there’s nothing final about it. The only thing that’s final about it is that the Iraqi people don’t have to worry about Saddam ever again. But there’s no finality for me. There’s a lot more to be done in Iraq.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) What did your mom say?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Haven’t spoken to her yet. No, I know you probably don’t think I’m telling the truth. But I’m telling you, I haven’t checked in with her. She’d probably say, “next time you go on TV, keep your hair better combed,” knowing her.

DIANE SAWYER: (Voice Over) If President Bush has a famously outspoken mother, it seems his wife is probably more assertive than we see. Do you remember when the President said this about the war in Iraq?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: There are some who feel like that, you know, the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is “bring ’em on.”

DIANE SAWYER: (Voice Over) Well, someone else saw it, too. We begin by talking about the President’s disclosure that he doesn’t read newspapers and his critics.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) First of all, I just want to ask about reading. And, Mr. President, you know that there was a great deal of reporting about the fact that you said, first of all, that you let Condoleezza Rice and Andrew Card give you a flavor of what’s in the news.


DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) That you don’t read the stories yourself.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah. I get my news from people who don’t editorialize. They give me the actual news. And it makes it easier to digest, on a daily basis, the facts.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Is it just harder to read constant criticism or to read?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Why even put up with it when you can get the facts elsewhere? I’m a lucky man. I’ve got, it’s not just Condi and Andy. It’s all kinds of people in my Administration who are charged with different responsibilities. And they come in and say, “this is what’s happening, this isn’t what’s happening.”

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) You don’t think you’re missing anything by not reading?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Missing opinion.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Do you read them?

LAURA BUSH: I read the newspapers, sure, of course. And I read some columns. But I agree with him that we can actually get what is really happening from the people who really know what’s happening. And that isn’t always what you get in the newspapers.

DIANE SAWYE: (Off Camera) Do you tell him, “oh, there’s a … “?

LAURA BUSH: Sure. Sure. I mean, we talk about things that we see. But I also know that there are certain …

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah, she tells me all right.

LAURA BUSH: There are certain columnists I won’t read. I mean, what, you know, why would I?

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) You were saying that …

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Straighten up your act, Mr. President.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) I was remembering when you said “wanted dead or alive.” And she suggested it to you.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes, she told me that.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) When you said, “bring ’em on”


DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Did she say something to you?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I’m sure she did. Of course, I was speaking to our troops then. Remember, we had just finished a, I mean, I don’t need to rationalize it. Yeah, she said something about it. She doesn’t like my rhetoric. Of course, she grew up in a part of the world where people tend to speak bluntly, so I’m surprised she doesn’t understand why I speak that way. But, nevertheless, she can be a pretty tough critic. And I take it, I take it to heart, I might add. That doesn’t necessarily mean I change, but I take it to heart.

TED KOPPEL, ABC NEWS: (Off Camera) Raise your hand if you believe that Governor Dean can beat George W. Bush.

DIANE SAWYER: (Voice Over) And now, the Presidential campaign and the punitive Democratic front-runner, former governor of Vermont, Howard Dean. Is he vulnerable in middle America for opposition to the war in Iraq?

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Howard Dean. It has been reported that members of your Administration were salivating at the prospect that he would be the nominee.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Look, I will respond to the Democratic nominee when they nominate a candidate. And I will … look, there’s just a lot of politics in Washington. Washington loves politics. It is, it makes for juicy news reporting and gossip. My job is to make this country more secure, more prosperous, and a better country. And I will continue doing that.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) He has Al Gore now endorsing him. Do you think Al Gore was looking for vindication?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: That’s up for the democrats to decide all that business. And all the pundits and the people, that’s your job, is to analyze all this stuff, not mine.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Would it be harder to run against a woman? Do you think it’s trickier to run against a female?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I’ve had that experience, and I had a tough race, and, with Governor Ann Richards.

FORMER GOVERNOR ANN RICHARDS, DEMOCRAT, TEXAS: We need somebody in the governor’s office who, by gosh, has worked for a living.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: It was a, it was an interesting race and a tough race.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Would you be surprised if Mrs. Clinton got in?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: That’s, that’s for the Democrats to decide. Pretty soon, there’ll be a candidate. And then you’ll be asking me questions, “why aren’t you willing to debate?” And, “why aren’t you engaging?” And the reason why is because the President has got a job to do.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) You don’t plan to debate?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Oh, I’m confident we’ll debate. I meant early in the process. There will be all kinds of pressures to respond to this or respond to that. And I know it’s coming. And I just want to warn you. I’m going to do my job. I’ve got a lot to do. As we say, the dance card is quite full these days. And, but we’re making good progress for the country. And that’s important.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) One of the worrying sectors is still jobs. Treasury Secretary John Snow said that we needed to create 200,000 more jobs a month in order, at the end of this, for you not to be the first President, as everyone has said, since Herbert Hoover, who had a net job loss in his term. How are you going to create 200,000 new jobs a month?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, first, let’s make sure the record, so I can distinguish myself from Herbert. I inherited the recession. I didn’t create one. And we responded with some tax relief, strong tax relief to stimulate the economy, and it’s working. And I’m pleased. And won’t rest until people who are looking for a job can find work.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) What worries you most about the economy? The deficit? Campaigning against them.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah, well, you got to understand, we’re at war, and I’m going to spend what is needed to win the war. And we’ve got to protect the homeland. We’ll spend what’s needed to protect the homeland. The deficit, we’ve got a plan to cut it in half over the next five years. It means Congress is going to have to tow the line when it comes to spending. We can’t, they can’t, particularly in campaign years, try to be all things to all people and overspend. But I think we’re making good progress. I’m satisfied with the progress we’ve made.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Massachusetts Supreme Court said that they did not feel the law was in a position to block gay marriage. When you talk about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, are you saying you will absolutely support a Constitutional amendment against gay marriage and against gay civil unions?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: If necessary, I will support a Constitutional amendment which would honor marriage between a man and a woman, codify that. And will, the position of this Administration is that, you know, whatever legal arrangements people want to make, they’re allowed to make, so long as it’s embraced by the state.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Let me tell you, the court, I thought, was, overreached its bounds as a court. It did the job of the legislature. It was a very activist court in making the decision it made. And, as you know, I’m a person who believes in judicial restraint, as opposed to judicial activism that takes the place of the legislative branch.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) But, Vice President Cheney has spoken out in favor of civil unions. In the 2000 election, you said pretty much it was a state issue.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: No, that’s right. Except, unless judicial rulings undermine the sanctity of marriage. In which case, we may need a Constitution – amendment.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Are they sinners? Are gays sinners?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We’re all sinners. We’re all sinners, and that’s important for …

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) No distinction?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I think we’re all sinners. One of my favorite Bible verses says, “why would I take a speck out of your eye when I have a log in my own?” And having said that, however, I do believe in the sanctity of marriage. But tolerance and belief in marriage aren’t mutually exclusive points of view.

DIANE SAWYER: (Voice Over) Once again, President and Mrs. Bush, they’ll have Christmas at Camp David, with their twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, who are about to graduate from college.

LAURA BUSH: The girls will be here, of course. One of them’s already here. The other one’s still in finals.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Is this serious empty nest syndrome setting in here?

LAURA BUSH: Well, we’ve had empty nest syndrome the whole time we’ve lived here at the White House. So, you know, it’s just another real passage in their lives. And so it’s a, also a passage in ours, when they graduate from college and go to work. They’re looking forward to it. And we are, too.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) You’ve said, no serious boyfriends yet.


DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Is that kind of a relief?

LAURA BUSH: Sure. I mean, it’s a relief in some ways. Although, I hope they find somebody they love. And we’re both actually hoping for grandchildren right away, but don’t tell them.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Who of you is a tougher judge of the boyfriends?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Me. I’ve got a pretty high standard. As you can imagine.

LAURA BUSH: I’m the one with a really high standard.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) And you think perhaps they’ll both study teaching?

LAURA BUSH: They may do that for a while. That’s what they’d like to do. And then I think they’ll go to graduate school. Who knows?

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) If there’s one thing you could say to them, starting this part of their lives, what would it be? Looking back when you were starting yours.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We still love you. Go, go for it.

LAURA BUSH: Yeah, that’s right. Go for it.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: And we will love you.

LAURA BUSH: For sure.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: And we will love you, no matter what happens.

LAURA BUSH: I think that the “go for it” part is really right. That it’s so, one of the things I learned as I got older was how important being productive and working is to your happiness, to anyone’s happiness. And so, I hope they, they learn that.

DIANE SAWYER: (Voice Over) And what about the other member of the family? That Scottish terrier named Barney?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Little Barney is a fabulous little guy. He’s the son I never had.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) And is barney the son?

LAURA BUSH: Absolutely not.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: That is a provocative question.

LAURA BUSH: No, he’s not. He’s our precious little dog that we are so crazy about.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: That’s easy for you to say. Who’s out there fishing with me on a regular basis? I can’t get anybody in the family to fish with me except for Barney.

LAURA BUSH: Barney does love to fish. He loves to sit on the prow of the boat.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Do you ever say, “I’m President of the United States, and I can’t get anybody to go fishing”?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, it’s a -at least when I canvass our family.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Just curious, what movies are you loving now?

LAURA BUSH: Let’s see. We have a lot of movies we hope to see over the Christmas holidays, the new ones.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Number one?

LAURA BUSH: Well, we’re interested in …

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Jack Nicholson’s movie.

LAURA BUSH: What’s the name of it? “Something’s Got to Give.” Our girls tell us that “Elf” is very funny and that the President will like it.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) America is now immersed in this reality TV.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah. I hate to say this, and I don’t want to disappoint the people that pay your salary, but I don’t watch it. I couldn’t tell you, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I know what reality TV is.

LAURA BUSH: We don’t watch any of those shows, of course, needless to say.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Sorry about that.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) What do you watch on television?

LAURA BUSH: We watch a lot of sports.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Sports. Your show, of course. With baited breath waiting to see this.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Right.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Look, we don’t watch much TV at all, as a matter of fact. We get to -I’m an early-to-rise person. Laura and I get up, we got up this morning about 5:15 this morning. And I’m at work before 7:00. And when you get up at 5:15, and work out like we both do, you get pretty sleepy at a reasonable hour. And so I don’t have a lot of time for TV.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Have you bought Mrs. Bush’s present yet?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I have. Incredibly expensive. You know, it’s amazing with fake jewelry, you just can’t tell the difference between the real and not.

LAURA BUSH: The most fun part about the holidays and Christmas, especially, is being at Camp David with all of our family, the girls, and my mother and his parents. That’ll be the really fun part. The bowling tournament and the backgammon tournament and the, what else will we have? And then going to church with those people who are stationed at Camp David, who we go to church with every Sunday that we’re there.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) And on New Year’s Day, you get up at sunrise and walk?


LAURA BUSH: Our sunrise New Year’s Day walk. We started doing that with the millennium, that first, January 1st, 2000. And it’s really fun for us. We love that. It gives us an opportunity to think about what’s happened. We actually, at the ranch, get up and walk at sunrise everyday. But especially that New Year’s Day is a special time.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Looking back, proudest moment of, let’s say past four years?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Let’s see, here. Proudest moment. You know, my nature is not to sit around and analyze and to second guess.

LAURA BUSH: I’m very proud of our country. And we’ve seen that, especially since September 11th, all the time.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Are you looking forward to this next year?

LAURA BUSH: I am looking forward to it. I like a campaign year. It’s a lot of fun. It’s also our last campaign.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) At no point, you ever said to each other, “do we want to do this again?”


LAURA BUSH: Not really.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: There’s too much to do. If there had been -you know, if the war on terror was over or whatever, maybe we would have. But it’s, there’s too much left to do.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) You said once in, I think it was the 2000 campaign, you didn’t need to be President.


DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) Do you need it now? Do you need to be re-elected?

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, you know, let’s try to put that in context. I’m not exactly sure. I’m confident I said that, if you said I said it, because my attitude was, is that, if I get whipped, fine. I can move on with my life. I’ve got, I’ve got a wife that I’m in love with. I’ve got daughters I love. I’ve got a wonderful group of friends that will be my friend -be my friends whether I’m President or not President. We’ve got a place we love in Texas. And so “need” is an interesting word. I want to be President because I’ve got a lot more to do. I believe we’re on the verge of some historic change, and the world will be better off for it. And this will be, I look forward to making the case. I will be a strong defender of the decisions that I’ve made.

DIANE SAWYER: (Off Camera) And so, the election year 2004 begins. I’m Diane Sawyer. We thank the President and Mrs. Bush. And I’ll see you tomorrow morning on “Good Morning America.” Tomorrow night, Oprah Winfrey, an emotional hour. The Christmas gift that only she can give. Good night.


Comments: 4


stop denying george bush


So is George Bush denial anything like Holocaust denial?


Dude, he’s plied you with four near-beers, just lie back.


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